Bailouts for Businesses? Only If They 'Hire American'

By Dan Cadman on March 25, 2020

My colleague David North has argued that if Congress enacts legislation to stimulate our faltering economy during the coronavirus pandemic, then any payouts or other relief for individuals should be tailored to keep illegal aliens from being able to scam the system and take advantage of the relief.

I agree with North. Putting aside all other considerations (and there are a variety of other cogent reasons that he has laid out), it certainly makes sense to do nothing that might cause a surge of illegal border-crossers of unknown health or infection status seeking to enter during this fragile time, just so they can avail themselves of the largesse, too.

But if North's notion is true for individuals, then it's even more true for businesses. There is a scramble on right now over which corporations and sectors of the economy are worthy of government assistance. Lobbyists are as thick on the ground in Capitol Hill right now as locusts, all vying for their respective industry's share of the pie. And the direction, depth, and breadth of government assistance for various industries seems to be one of the sticking points holding back legislation in the Senate, at least as I write this.

I'm no economist, but I've never been fully comfortable with the "too big to fail" concept. Propping up large corporate entities with outmoded or questionable business models, that have by choice taken on too much risk via their debt ratio, and that have given corporate executives big bonuses instead of paying down their debt, seems counterintuitive if we are the capitalist free-market nation we claim to be.

But there are others who argue vigorously that it's right and necessary to provide government assistance given that the undoing of major corporations will take tens of thousands of jobs and corollary industries down with them.

If one accepts that there will indeed be corporate bailouts in some form or fashion, then Congress should (but probably won't) give some serious thought to the immigration dimensions of the issue before making assistance available.

For example, is that business entity a substantial beneficiary of either outsourcing or cheap foreign labor imported to the United States to do its work? If you think that's just a few companies, take a look at the VisaDoor website; you'll see a surprising number of major corporations, including Facebook, Intel, Google, Microsoft, Deloitte, and Infosys.

Worse are the many corporate giants (including Disney, Southern California Edison, Carnival Cruise Lines, ad infinitum), that have actually pink-slipped Americans and resident alien employees in order to replace them with "temporary" foreign workers who are often trained by those fired workers as a required part of receiving any compensation package.

Third, exactly how many jobs in total are occupied by American and resident alien workers? Some, for example the major players in the cruise line industry, actually hire very few. If so, then exactly what "jobs" are being saved by cash infusions underwritten by U.S. taxpayers?

Fourth, what kind of U.S. income tax has that business paid in the past? If none, or almost none, then why should it benefit from taxpayer-underwritten relief?

Fifth and final, is the business in an industry that has traditionally relied heavily upon illegal alien labor? Has it been fined or prosecuted in the past for hiring illegal workers? Has it been debarred from bidding on contracts by federal or state agencies for practices related to an unauthorized workforce? Have illegal aliens been taken into custody from its work premises? If so, then close attention should be paid to that business's existing workforce as it seeks federal money. At a minimum, any legislation passed should oblige the government to require a certification under oath as a part of the loan guarantees or other assistance that the business employs only lawfully authorized workers. The government ought to make clear that it will audit those companies as a follow-up to ensure that the certifications are true.

As I say, these are the kinds of questions that should be asked, and the kinds of strings that should be attached to any assistance given to businesses, large or small, standing in line with their hands out.

Will that happen? Don't bet the farm on it. More likely, both chambers of Congress will go in entirely the other direction instead, even as Americans are losing their livelihoods in significant numbers all over the country (see here, here, and here).